Mobile has become the new #1 target for hackers and cyberattacks. As more consumers and businesses become more comfortable conducting business over mobile devices, this becomes a natural target for the baddies who want to steal personal information, or just disrupt business. And if you believe what the experts are saying, you need to be prepared that your mobile phone will eventually be hacked… With the number of incidents of malicious code (particularly on Android) increasing by the day, it is vital that your organization is prepared.
One of the main targets is not actually what is sitting on the phone, but instead the services that the app is accessing on the back end. These services present APIs that mobile apps invoke to get and put information into back end systems. In the mobile world, most of these APIs use a simple and concise data format called JSON to transmit this data and these requests. While most organizations protect these APIs using traditional firewall technologies, many are not doing enough to protect themselves from malicious content hidden in the JSON. According to IDC, “signature-based tools (antivirus, firewalls, and intrusion prevention) are only effective against 30–50% of current security threats.”
A similar issue arose in the height of SOA adoption, where protection against XML-bourne attacks became standard practice, but with the rise of mobile and lighter weight RESTful services, organizations need to shift to make sure they are protecting themselves against new threats.
Luckily, there is a way to protect against these threats without relying solely on good programming practices. Some of the same security gateways that organizations use to protect Web services can be easily extended to protect JSON/REST services. The best of these (like WebSphere DataPower) can be delivered as secure hardware appliances that prevent unauthorized tampering and provide FIPS 140-2 Level 3 certified protection. These gateways work by inspecting the data payloads and finding and filtering out suspect JSON data (among other things), providing a much deeper level of protection than traditional firewalls alone.
With all of the focus and spending on Mobile security, organizations need to be considering this threat as much as they are the threats to what is resident on the phone itself. I don’t think this has sunk in for many organizations, yet. Is your organization ready?